To explain the startling success of Senator John McCain in the fight for the GOP presidential nomination, talk radio hosts and columnists who loathe the Arizona Senator cite an alleged split on the conservative side between Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. According to this reasoning (explicitly advanced by Laura Ingraham, Hugh Hewitt and many others) if only Huckabee withdrew as a candidate, Mitt Romney could unite conservative cadres and pull out an upset victory on Super-Duper Tuesday.
Of course, Huckabee won’t leave the race (in at least six of Tuesday’s state contests he’s running well ahead of Romney) and the argument that he should rests on distorted history and illogical assumptions.
Some of my fellow commentators on the right seem to believe that the minority “moderate” wing of the party has united behind McCain because they had no other candidate, and the much larger conservative base in the GOP fatally split its votes among a number of once-viable alternatives.
These conclusions are flat-out wrong--- both about the party’s ruling conservatives and its remaining moderates.
To believe that Huck and Mitt are dividing conservatives, you have to believe that Huckabee is a conservative --- which Romney, Limbaugh, Igraham, and countless others have been denying (stridently and strenuously) for months. Romney spent millions on negative ads in Iowa trying to label Huckabee as a liberal RINO—slamming him as soft on immigration, soft on crime, a big spender, a tax hiker and so forth (the same sort of attacks that they’re now applying to McCain). Fred Thompson pronounced Huckabee a “pro-life LIBERAL” and Rush delivered daily diatribes about how the former Arkansas governor was not “a conservative.” So, has Huckabee now suddenly morphed into a true conservative just to give Romniacs an excuse for the failure of their guy to rally the rightwing base? ... (click here to continue reading article)